Solar Panel Benefits
Solar may be the energy source of the future, but are solar panels right for your current home? There are many factors that may influence your decision to go solar, but the first thing on your mind is probably the cost. As installation costs continue to fall and the market continues to grow with more buying options than ever, it’s never been easier to switch your home to green energy. Here is a breakdown of the ways solar panels can save you money, both in the short term and over the life of the panels.
Savings on your electric bill
The most obvious place to look for both immediate and long-term benefits is your energy bill. No matter the size of your installation, your bills will immediately be lower and you could save thousands of dollars over the life of your panels. Savings range anywhere from 10% to a full 100%, depending on factors like your location and your energy usage. You can check an online calculator like https://www.solar-estimate.org/ for an estimate.
Increase your home value
Solar panels are an increasingly attractive feature for homebuyers. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the sale price of the average home increased $17,000 with solar panels: http://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/lbnl-4476e.pdf.
Federal solar tax credit
The immediate return via tax credits brings your installation cost down even further. The credit — from 22% to 30% of the cost of the system — is available to homeowners through 2021.
There is a range of state and utility incentives to encourage solar adoption. Depending on where you live, you could qualify for an arrangement with the utility company that actually pays you for the clean energy your panels supply to the electric grid.
Saving the planet
Of course, the “is it worth it?” question cannot be completely answered by a financial evaluation. If you are considering solar panels, the environmental benefit can’t be ignored. Going solar significantly reduces your carbon dioxide emissions. “The average residential solar system offsets about 100,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide in 20 years – the equivalent of driving a car for 100,000 miles.” http://energyinformative.org/benefits-of-solar-panels/
There are many things to consider before jumping into a solar installation. Most importantly, work with a consultant to help you with the process, and do your research. You’ll need to understand the types of solar panels available and what will best suit your needs.
With your consultant:
- Consider how much space you have available, your energy consumption, and how your home is positioned to determine how best to orient your panels. Tools like Google’s Project Sunroof https://www.google.com/get/sunroof#p=0 can help
- Make sure your homeowners’ association doesn’t ban or restrict rooftop solar panels
- Know how you’ll connect with the grid and understand your state’s solar policies
- Ensure your roof will support energy panels. If you decide on a roof installation, your home needs to be structurally sound
- When you’ve decided on a spot for installation, think about the future of your yard and home. The installation will last for 20-25 years, so if you were planning major renovations or have just planted a stand of shade trees, you may need to reimagine your solar plans
- Understand how you’ll pay up front. Will you lease or buy? Don’t forget to think about replacement parts when budgeting
Because you’re making major changes to your home and the way you interact with your utilities, it is always best to have the most information possible. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council has a list of resources to help you ensure you’re prepared for your solar installation: https://irecusa.org/consumer-protection/consumer-resources/.